Open Letter to Senator John McCain

Dear Senator McCain:

I write to you because I truly believe you are one of the most important senators we have in the country right now, and one of the few “grown-ups” in the United States Senate.

I have always been a supporter. I read your book Faith of My Fathers in 2008. Here is my review. I was ready to vote for you, until the day came when you selected Governor Palin as your running mate. That day you lost my vote. If you had chosen pretty much anyone else, you might have very well won that election, and we would have a very different country now. You might have handled the Iraq pullout differently, and there might not be an ISIS now. You might have had to run against this upstart named Barack Obama in 2012, and you might even have won reelection. Then Obama, still a young man at 55 would probably have taken the election of 2016 and we’d have the start of an Obama presidency now.

But my version of alternate history didn’t happen, I voted for Obama, and I enjoyed eight stable years of class and dignity in the White House, no scandals, and an impressive record of things getting done despite rampant obstructionism by the House and Senate, sometimes supported by yourself.

I have respected your actions and decisions over the years. You can find my comments on this blog by searching for your name.

I am writing to you now because I need to call on you to continue to be the voice of reason in the Senate. We have a president who is, in my opinion, off the rails. I am deeply worried about the damage he is doing not only to our country and our people directly, but also to our standing in the world and the general world order. We need a voice of reason, we need common sense, and we need reality in our government. If this administration is indeed tied to Russian influences, we need our elected representatives to hold Donald Trump accountable.

I know about your role in the Sergei Magnitsky case at the State Department as chronicled in Bill Browder’s book Red Notice:

After another fifteen minutes his secretary reappeared. Again, McCain politely waved her off. We repeated this sequence once more, and by the time I was finished, I’d been sitting in McCain’s office for nearly an hour. “Bill, Sergei’s story is shocking, truly terrible. I am so sorry for what happened to him, for you and for everybody else involved.”

“Thank you, Senator.”

“Tell me— what can I do to help?”

I told him about Cardin and McGovern and the early drafts of the Magnitsky Act. Then I said, “Since Senator Cardin is a Democrat, it would be hugely helpful to have an important Republican cosponsor on this bill. I was hoping that this could be you, sir.”

McCain leaned back in his chair, his face thoughtful and serene. “Of course I will do that. It’s the least I can do.” He turned to his aide Chris Brose, who’d been sitting there throughout.

“Chris, please coordinate with Senator Cardin right away to make sure you get me on that bill.”

McCain then turned back to me. “You’ve been a real friend to Sergei. Not many people would do what you’re doing, and I deeply respect that. I will do everything in my power to help you get justice for Sergei. God bless you.”

— Browder, Bill. Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice (p. 308 – 309)

This story illustrated to me that, of all the politicians in Washington, you are one that understands the political reality of Russia and its objectives. You are also the one, perhaps the only one, who understands what it means to be tortured.

Today I heard you voice your concerns in Munich about President Trump and his continued populist campaign of suppression of the media and general free speech of individuals, and obfuscation of the truth.

We need your voice in Washington and in the United States Senate to keep this administration in check, and to remind your Republican colleagues that it is their responsibility too not to bow to the powers that be and stand up for the integrity of our democracy, the health of our country’s political system and the continued celebration of free speech in defense of science, religion, education and economic health or our people.

You, Senator McCain, are now more important in our government today than you ever were, even in 2008. And I am here to support you.


Norbert Haupt.

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